Tag Archives: Psychology

Buck Up, Little Camper

We all need encouragement now and then. I think this seldom-used, maybe archaic phrase is so cute. “Buck up, little camper.” I picture a little kid getting a parental chuck under the chin. The kid’s lower lip pulls back in place, and parent and child smile warmly at each other. “Now run along and play,” says the parent.

This picture of grandpa and grandchild that I took in Mevagissey, Cornwall, England, has that sweetness about it. (Hurray for telephoto lenses.)

Today I read Christian author Jan Watson‘s blog. She talked about “recharging” in God’s Word when your battery’s low.

Here’s the verse I’ve been plugged into lately, reading it over and over—Romans 15:13, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” I relax when I get to “by the power of the Holy Spirit.” I’m reminded that I can’t get there myself and therefore don’t have to. Ah, what a thirst-quenching drink.

Then, since we are what we think, I repeat “trust, joy, peace, hope” to drill those words into my thinking and thence into my doing.

But what do you do when you’re too tired to even drag yourself to the well? Tired unto tired out. No self-condemnation, no despair. Lift your chin toward your heavenly Father for that encouraging, “Buck up, little camper.” And lean your tired head into the Father’s hand and rest.

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BTW—to you women who love Christian historical fiction, you MUST read Jan Watson. Her series starts with Troublesome Creek. Jan is clearly anointed to write for us.

Cristine Eastin © 2012

Get the Picture You Want

If a picture says a thousand words, here’s the story behind this photo, taken while on a walk in Lyme Regis, England.

In the dark age of cameras I used a single lens reflex camera, and I got pretty good pictures—I knew how to get the photo I wanted.

Reluctantly and belatedly, I joined the digital era and decided to try a digital happy snapper. It was light and easy to travel with. But frustrating. I’d see the photo I wanted, push the shutter release, and by the time the message got to the pea computer brain of the camera to actually take the picture—the moment was gone—and I got some other photo. Like the one below.

I did my research and switched to a digital single lens reflex camera (DSLR). It’s heavy, but worth its weight. Duh, most of you are thinking. Bear with me.

Then the other photography problem I’ve always had needed to be dealt with—just take the darn picture and stop hoping for something better, before I lose it altogether. So when the calico cat looked at me in a mirrored pose of her concrete buddy, I immediately snapped the photo without worrying if her eyes were in focus or if I had it composed the way I wanted. I got it! A little post-photo cropping, and I had a photo I was thrilled with.

The two photo examples were taken with my DSLR. In this case I actually did want the shot with the kitty’s head in the fountain. I decided I’d better shoot before the cat jumped down and I lost the opportunity for any cute shot. And then I was rewarded with her look at me before she took off.

There’s a metaphor for life in here somewhere. Take the darn picture—make the decision—and don’t over-fuss with getting the details right, or the opportunity may pass—or something like that.

Cristine Eastin © 2012

A Little Couple Psychology

Here’s a picture of our cats, Wadi and Lulu—fighting. Bear in mind, they’re brother and sister, and they’ve obviously known each other their entire lives. Yet they still fight.

If you want to see them not fighting, check out the Family Album page.

In therapy, I’ve often said couples are like my cats. They know each other —they love each other—but for some reason, one of them looks wrong at the other, the hackles go up, and they’re off and fighting.

In session, sometimes I just want to yell, “KNOCK IT OFF!” I do yell that at Wadi.

Effective couple therapy often lasts a number of months to make sure the couple learns how to handle, and recover from, episodes where hackles get raised.

My motto in therapy is—there’s a reason people think, feel, and do everything—however, it may not work, and you may not deserve it. What that means is that it’s no mystery why people behave the way they do, although it may be hidden deep in the recesses of one’s brain.

Stay tuned for more on this.

So there’s a reason Wadi picked on his sister this particular day, but he’s not saying what it is.

© Cristine Eastin, 2012

Writing Believable Characters

Author Jon Hassler wrote brilliantly. I haven’t finished devouring his work, but Rookery Blues, The Dean’s List, and North of Hope are set in small-town northern Minnesota where people cope with life. Obviously, people cope elsewhere, but crafting a fascinating story about fascinating people doing not much in the middle of nowhere takes skill. No wonder Hassler taught creative writing. He was a master.

In my opinion, one of the reasons Hassler’s work crackles is that he creates extraordinarily believable characters. I picture him writing with the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), the bible of mental health diagnoses, propped next to the keyboard.

To create real, consistent—believable—characters, it wouldn’t be a bad idea if writers really did that—familiarized themselves with the criteria from the DSM-IV.

It’s jarring if a character does something we just know people like that don’t do, because we know these people.

Read the descriptions for: Personality Disorders, Mood Disorders, Eating Disorders, Substance Abuse, Adjustment Disorders, Childhood Disorders, Cognitive Disorders, Anxiety Disorders, Impulse Control Disorders, and Psychotic Disorders. That will get you started on drawing real-life people and their problems, remembering the continuum factor.

Writers love to get characters into trouble and watch them squirm to see what happens. The process and outcome of coping should usually ring true to a character’s personality, whether it’s reactions to trouble of the character’s own making, or events or actions of others. A narcissist is unlikely to be overcome by a wave of altruism, unless it’s self-serving. A hoarder, chronic worrier, or clean freak is unlikely to ever be free of all obsessive-compulsive behaviors or anxious thoughts. A character who’s basically OK before a seriously depressing event occurs is likely to have the resources to cope and be relatively OK again. And eating disorders aren’t about being thin, though the client may protest too much, they’re about emotions and control.

There was a time when I railed against diagnosing my psychotherapy clients, but I did it because third party payers require it. I’m resigned that we’re stuck with the medical model and insurance companies. (And if I continue down this particular bunny trail, I’ll start foaming at the mouth.) Diagnosing has its point, though, in that it gives therapists a framework within which to understand and treat people.

Diagnostic categories can also be the basis for putting flesh and bone on our fictitious characters.

© Cristine Eastin, 2012

On Your Mark—Get Set—Go!

Go? Go where?

With this launch post I’m off and running in the blogosphere, but I’m running blind. What’s a blog?

Everything I’ve read and everyone I’ve listened to says a writer must have a blog – so, I now have a blog.

Here’s my plan.

I’ll be writing about writing – what I’m doing, what I’m learning, and questions I have. If I get brave, I’ll post excerpts of my debut novel that’s in revision.

I’ll write about psychology. That’s my area of serious expertise since I’ve been a psychotherapist in private practice for lots of years. Writing and psychology need a good marriage. Characters need to be believable. I think we’ve heard that.

For example – a well known movie features a mentally ill character. At the end, love conquers all, and he’s projected to get all better and live happily ever after. Sorry, but for the particular illness and the severity level at which it’s portrayed, the prognosis for happy ever after for this guy isn’t great. And the ending falls flat.

Hopefully, I can help you draw believable characters with insights into psychology and human behavior.

I’ll write about Christian faith. If I hide my faith under a bushel basket, it’s no good to anyone but me – the assumption being that I’m hiding there, too, either in miserliness or cowardice.

And I’ll write about travel. I’ve been fortunate to see some interesting and lovely places, and I’ve taken photos I’ll share.

I finished reading a novel recently, and I thought, “So what.” I didn’t like the protagonist. I didn’t care about her, even if she got in serious trouble. I disliked her so much, I didn’t care if she got out of the trouble. It’s not a good thing if our readers say, “So what.” With that in mind, I hope this blog will count for something – that you’ll get something for your time, and so will I.

What I hope YOU get from my blog.

Information. Challenged. Fun. Expand your blog community.

That’s what I hope for, too.

One of the things that has just knocked me out the deeper I’ve gotten into this writing community, is the generosity of some of the writers I’ve encountered – and I mean big names. I took a chance and emailed a couple of the biggies with a question. They answered personally! That meant a lot to me. It helped me keep the wind in my writing sails. Sharing and caring – that’s what it has to be all about.

So, if you like what you see here, please bookmark my site and join the party. Pass it on to your friends, and let’s have a BIG party!

© Cristine Eastin, 2012